Recaps

Religious site surpasses 1,000 languages

Screenshot of dropdowns on Jehovah’s witness website

The website with the widest language reach isn’t Facebook or Wikipedia, it’s the Jehovah’s Witness website, jw.org. In November, the site surpassed the translation milestone of 1,000 languages, and is now featuring downloadable content available in over 1,000 languages, from articles to videos to audio files. Language options include various Arabic dialects (such as Arabic for Iraq, Jordan or Syria) and a wide variety of sign languages. The 1,000th language posted was Mi’Kmaq, an indigenous language with about 8,800 speakers, spoken primarily in the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Additionally, jw.org’s online pages were already in 820+ languages. Facebook and Wikipedia sites support navigation in about 100 and 280 languages respectively, making jw.org by far the world’s most widely translated site.

Other religious websites have a large number of featured languages. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ website, for example, is available in 118 languages, including Apache, Basque and Georgian.

Historically, in terms of underserved languages, religious-based translation has often outpaced corporate-based translation. SIL International is a Christian nonprofit that consults with the UN on language issues and publishes the annual Ethnologue, a standardized catalogue of the world’s languages. SIL International was founded to focus on Bible translation, and is affiliated with Wycliffe Bible Translators.